Summary: "I don't care if you're nine hundred, you're never too old for a hug." Alternate ending to EOT, if Wilf hadn't got trapped.

Author's notes: I consider this my Who debut. Just a short little piece, hope you enjoy. The title's (sadly) only a metaphor, however I have a more literal take (or two) in the works ... Anyway, if you like Wilf, and/or ship 10/Rose, keep an eye out for future fics. That's all for now, thanks for reading!

The Doctor's Dad by Alexannah

"I'm alive."

Amid the ruins of the Naismith's main room, the Doctor levered himself up, wincing as the pain registered. His whole body was aching, and glass fragments were cutting into his palms and through his trousers into his knees.

But he was alive. And still him. He hadn't regenerated.

He gave a short laugh that jarred his head.


It was over. Rassilon was gone, Gallifrey was gone. The Master was gone. The Time Lords were gone. Again.

He'd ended his race. Again.

He was alone. Again.

"Doctor! You all right?"

Forget the physical pain; the Doctor started shaking as it all sunk in. Once again, forced to choose between his own people or the rest of the universe; once again, taken the universe's side and watched the damage he'd inflicted on those he'd once been part of.

And those he'd loved; still loved. The Doctor's hearts broke as he remembered her face; it had been so long, she was a different person, and yet he'd know her soul anywhere. The one who'd made it so hard to pull that trigger, and yet at the same time given him the strength to make the right decision.

He'd lost her again. Sent her back into hell with the rest.

He choked back a sob, fighting tears. The first escaped, he felt it trickle down his cheek. For a moment he just watched, as it dripped onto the floor among the glass and specks of blood, but jumped a mile when he felt someone's hand on his shoulder.

"Sorry," Wilf said, withdrawing his hand quickly. "Didn't mean to make you jump."

"S'okay." The Doctor started to dry his eyes on his sleeve, not wanting his friend to see, but got an arm around his shoulders and a handkerchief pressed gently into his hands.

"Here." Wilf, ignoring the glass, knelt on the floor next to him. "This help?"

The Doctor couldn't help it; he looked at the uncertain half-smile, the pure compassion in those blue eyes. After everything that had happened, it was that simple act of kindness that broke his hold.

His shoulders shook with silent sobs, and he no longer tried to wipe the tears away. Instead, Wilf gently brushed the handkerchief over his face, leaned the Doctor's head on his shoulder and with a fatherly affection rocked him, soothing him, as he must have done numerous times with his daughter and granddaughter.

Memories of being held like this, previously dimmed with time, came flooding back as the Doctor wept, which if anything intensified the grief. He had had friends, companions, almost lovers, but not for a long time had he had anything like a parent, and it wasn't until now he realised just how much he missed it. A childlike desire to cling to Wilfred and not let him go almost overpowered him, and he made a movement as if to try, but the rational part of his brain made him pull back.

Wilf noticed the movement, and shook his head. "Come here, you." Before the Doctor could react, the old human had pulled him closer and wrapped his arms firmly around him. "I don't care if you're nine hundred and whatever it was, you're never too old for a hug."

A small laugh escaped as the Doctor clung back, his eyes squeezed shut against the tears and his face buried in Wilfred's shoulder.

As Wilf continued to rock him, the Doctor remembered the words spoken between them on the ship, after the Master had uttered the words "your dad". "I wish you were," he murmured before he could stop himself. Wilf gave no sign that he knew what he meant, but the Doctor became aware of a dampness on his neck.

The tears eventually stopped coming; the Doctor had cried himself out. Although his chest still ached, he no longer felt as if he would explode from the pain of it. Still he didn't let Wilf go, and the human didn't make him. All the gratitude, all the emotions making his head spin, spilled out in two short words.

"Thanks," the Doctor whispered, and then with a small grin, "Dad."

Wilf chuckled. "Any time, my boy."

The End

Author's note: After the success of my Gallifreyan nursery rhyme (check it out: Apotropaic Prophecy), I thought about trying to turn fic narration into rhymes and am working on one for this little piece. Don't know when it will be posted, keep a look-out/add to author alert.


Alive and whole, but at what cost?
Gallifrey again is lost ...
Now devastated in its wake
Remembers and can't stop the ache.
(To be continued.)